In 2019, the city had recorded 91,223 deaths. The number went up to 112,906 deaths in 2020, including 11,116 deaths due to Covid-19. If the deaths caused by Covid-19 are set aside, the rise in deaths is nearly 12%.
“There was definitely an accessibility issue during the pandemic as the healthcare infrastructure was overloaded and many centres shut down in the initial days,” said Mangesh Pednekar, Director, Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, who spoke during the launch of the report. A survey conducted by Praja Foundation between November and December 2020 had shown that nearly 36% of respondents struggled to access healthcare services for non-Covid issues.
The lack of accessibility can be directly linked to the drastic fall in registrations of other major diseases throughout the city. Data collated by the Praja Foundation showed that there was a 28% decline in TB cases registered in the city in 2020, compared to the previous year. Registration of diabetes cases had declined by 29%, hypertension by 24%, HIV cases by 46%. “This decline in registered cases of diseases can be attributed to the lockdown restrictions and major shift in focus towards COVID management,” the report stated.
Accurate data is crucial to making policies and designing measures. But the Praja team struggled to access the break-up of the cause of deaths that occurred in 2020 as the BMC did not have access to the newly launched Civil Registration System (CRS) by the Centre for birth and death registration.
“Government should ensure that data is made available online, for everyone to access easily,” said Milind Mhaske, director of the Praja Foundation. “The pandemic was a clarion call. We have to strengthen CRS and reconsider the way we look at public health, public infrastructure and public health policies,” he said.
Mhaske also suggested that the city’s health budget should be broken down for the 24 wards, and the development of health infrastructure should be undertaken based on the needs of the wards. For example, health facilities could be concentrated in the M-East ward, which has the lowest human development index and a large number of people access public healthcare.
The report also highlighted how the city is lagging behind in many categories when it comes to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030. The SDG target for Tuberculosis is zero cases per one lakh population, but Mumbai has 298 TB cases per lakh population. In 2020, the city’s maternal mortality numbers were 164 deaths per lakh live birth while the SDG target is to achieve 70 deaths.
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